Posted by: Rachel M. | December 3, 2009

What Separates Humans from Animals?

Throughout the story, Alice finds herself among the company of practically all animals, save for the Duchess and Royalty. Significance? I think yes.

I’m not sure if the animals are adult or not, but the idea came to me that perhaps Carroll was alluding to the idea that adults tend to be some sort of metaphorical animal. This seems fairly appropriate considering how Alice fails to fit in into the animal’s Wonderland, just like I’m sure she failed to fit into adult society.

In addition, when thinking about the separation between man and animal, it seems what distinguishes us is the creative and symbolic mind. As well, we possess compassion and the ability to display complex emotions, like guilt? If Carroll were to acknowledge this as true (and considering his bias toward adults), it would seem fairly plausible that he was suggesting that as we age, these traits fade and we become more like animals.

Animals tend to be thought of as simple creatures, and as symbols of primitive existence. Taking this into account, I could also see how Carroll’s depiction of animals suggests he might see commoners in a more animal light considering all the characters are animal except the important nobility. This gives the common people a more primal and uncivilized connotation in the grand scheme of Carroll’s writing.

This makes me wonder: What does all this mean to you? I feel like I’m missing something.

Perhaps animals would just make a story more fun for a little girl, it could be that too. But, all in all, I feel the story helps to illuminate the differences between the common nonsensical animals and the insane humans in Carroll’s world.


  1. This is a very well thought out post. I think that we often jump right to the conclusion that the animals in Wonderland are just for fun, but they could mean more. Possibly it could be both. He might have created the animals for Alice to enjoy, but also for adult readers. Carroll appreciated the mind of a child and how they looked at the world. Thy are more creative and and often feel strongly about certain things that we don’t realize. As we get older the world tends to dull us down and we have to learn to control our emotions. So in a way adults really are more like animals because they just don’t have the creative thoughtful mind of a child.

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